J.J. McCarthy focused on current challenge as Michigan’s schedule ramps up

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By Samantha Rose

As the 2023 college football season reaches its midpoint, there is an argument to be made that no team has been as impressive through the first six weeks of the campaign as the Michigan Wolverines.

The No. 2 ranked team in the country has won its first six games in decisive fashion, outscoring opponents, 224-40. The Wolverines are putting up more than 400 yards per game, while averaging 37.3 points per contest, both of which rank near the top of the Big Ten.

Michigan junior QB J.J. McCarthy has played a big role in the team’s success, and he has gotten better as the season has gone on. The second-year starter completed 12 of 16 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while also adding 30 yards and a score on the ground in a commanding 45-7 win against Nebraska in Week 5. A week later, McCarthy completed 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 17 yards and two rushing scores in a 52-10 victory over Minnesota.

As the Wolverines prepare to take the field Saturday against Indiana, McCarthy joined FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt on an episode of “Breaking the Huddle.” The two discussed Michigan’s performance through the first six weeks of the season and McCarthy’s thoughts on how good he feels this team really is.

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“I feel really good about it,” McCarthy told Klatt. “We’re hitting the point where it’s like, ‘We are a really good football team.’ But, like all great empires, great teams, those that fall, the reason is it’s from within. 

“So, we’re just steady, focusing on getting better and improving each and every day, seeing how good we can really get.”

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy talks to Joel Klatt ahead of matchup vs. Indiana

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy talks to Joel Klatt ahead of matchup vs. Indiana

McCarthy is one of many stars on a Michigan offense that has shown a balanced attack throughout the first half of the season. Blake Corum has rushed for 494 yards on 6.0 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns, while Roman Wilson has taken a step forward, recording 22 receptions for 382 yards and eight touchdowns this season. 

McCarthy credited offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore for the team’s success on the offensive side of the ball, saying the coach does a good job at explaining why the offense operates the way it does.

“That was actually one of the focal points going into fall camp, just the why behind everything,” McCarthy said. “Coach Moore likes to call it, ‘seeing the play from a balcony view.’ Not just thinking about who’s getting the ball and where the ball’s going, but the why behind each and every play. The why behind our philosophy as an offense.”

McCarthy continued to explain to Klatt the core philosophies of Moore’s offense, but he wasn’t quite as efficient there as he has been on the field.

“Our guys have really bought into our four pillars, which are: maximum effort, precise execution, protecting the football and, uh, shoot, what was the other one? I totally blanked, my bad,” McCarthy said, nervously laughing off his mistake. “But, just sticking to the four pillars that our offense has really emphasized and focused on this year is huge for our success.”

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy shows off ELITE elusiveness in WILD 16-yard passing TD against Nebraska

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy shows off ELITE elusiveness in WILD 16-yard passing TD against Nebraska

Michigan’s six opponents up to this point have a combined record of 17-17, which includes a trio of non-Power 5 opponents. However, the team’s schedule really picks up down the home stretch as the Wolverines take on No. 6 Penn State and 5-1 Maryland on the road before closing out the regular season against No. 3 Ohio State. 

Regardless of who appears on Michigan’s future schedule, McCarthy said his focus is on the current challenge, not looking ahead to those huge matchups down the stretch.

“We’re so in the present moment and focused on how we can be a championship team this practice and going into Wednesday’s practice,” McCarthy said. “I think as the games progress on, this is just another stepping stone in our journey of becoming the best we can possibly be.”



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